First Look At The Smithsonian’s Museum of African American History and Culture

Last year, Chicagoans were one of the first to get an up close look at the soon to open Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, albeit in the form of an architects scale model building during the Art Institute of Chicago’s exhibit of “Making Place: The Architecture of David Adjaye” now the Washington Post is giving the first look at the highly anticipated, $540 million, Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup designed museum set to open this fall. 

Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture-Langston Hughes poem
A Langston Hughes poem

There is much to be done in the coming months. Wires still hang from the ceiling, and crates of artifacts are parked in every corner of the galleries. Display cases are being built on lower levels, while in the music galleries, cases labeled Bo Diddley, Little Richard and the Jackson 5 await their treasures…”

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In terms of financials, the $540 million project was funded through a partnership with Congress, which provided $270 million. The other half is being raised through private contributions though as opening day draws near, the museum is still a few million dollars of that goal; Enter prominent African Americans who have been helping fundraising efforts. Two time Academy Award winning actor Denzel Washington and wife Pauletta Washington, reportedly raised $17 million at an event they hosted May 3. Oak Park native and Shondaland founder, Shonda Rhimes has also pledged $10 million to the project. Additionally, Oprah Winfrey has pledged $12 million to the project. Melody Hobson and George Lucas have also pledged over $1 million to the project which will officially open September 24.  Below are first pictures.

 

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Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture-6

Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture-4 Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture-3
Black Feminists

“What we wanted was spaces with a lot of dramatic viewpoints,” said exhibition designer Ralph Appelbaum.

 

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The familiar bronze-clad structure on Constitution Avenue represents only about a third of the museum’s total space, Yetter said. After entering the central court, visitors will be encouraged to take an elevator 40 feet underground, where the journey begins with the global slave trade. A series of ramps will take visitors through time and space, through slavery, segregation and the civil rights era.

 

*image credit: Jahi Chikwenndiu/The Washington Post

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